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Samurai Blues is serious improvisation between two incredibly talented performers

Music Review: Mani Neumeier & Kawabata Makoto – Samurai Blues

Quite literally, Samurai Blues represents a two-man supergroup “on acid.“ Mani Neumeier founded Krautrock legends Guru Guru back in 1968. He is a master drummer, and is as renowned for his antics as for his playing. Kawabata Makoto is the founding guitar player of Acid Mothers Temple – the premiere Japanese psychedelic band of our time.

In 1996, when Neumeier first toured Japan with Guru Guru in Japan, he was honored with a figure in the Tokyo Wax Museum. Mutual friends introduced Acid Mother Makoto to Mani, and the two have toured as Acid Mothers Guru Guru since. Taking things a step further, the drummer and guitarist went into the studio.

Acid Mothers Temple have developed one hell of a reputation in the post-Millennial psych-scene. But Makoto has incredible respect for Neumeier. Although the guitar player gets into some fine freakiness, he allows the drummer to lead these improvisations.

This is evident from the start. At eight-and-a-half minutes, “Samurai Blues” allows the old German the opportunity to kick solid ass. Not that Makoto is any slouch either. The next cut, “Mushi,” provides ample illustration of this. This tune is fifteen minutes of pure energy, the pair seem to be everywhere at once. “Another Romance” is not the love song one might expect from the title. No, not unless you dig the drone, which is heavy enough to teach Sleep or OM a thing or two.

The centerpiece of the album is “Spinning Contrasts.” This twenty-minute exercise reminds me of Interstellar Space by John Coltrane and drummer Rashied Ali. “Spinning Contrasts” is not easy-listening by a long shot, but it certainly is exhilarating. Both the drums and guitar (substitute for Coltrane’s sax) go “out there” as far as they possibly can. Each take serious solos midway, and sound fantastic.

We wind up with “Tomorrow Twist,“ a three-minute Free Jazz freakout. The ghost of Albert Ayler seems to be hovering over these proceedings. Samurai Blues is serious improvisation between two incredibly talented performers – Mani Neumeier and Kawabata Makoto. Look for it.

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